If you're just building extensions for yourself, you can load an extension unpacked. Unpacked extensions should only be used to load trusted code during the development process.
If you're not building an extension for your personal use, you'll eventually need to distribute it. There are only two officially supported distribution mechanisms. In both cases, Chrome periodically checks extension hosts for new versions of installed extensions and automatically updates them without user intervention.
- Chrome Web Store
- Chrome Web Store is an online marketplace for Chrome extensions and themes. Developers who register with the Chrome Web Store can publish their extensions and make them available to users across the world. Only extensions hosted on and signed by the Chrome Web Store can be directly installed by users. See Publish in the Chrome Web Store and Enterprise publishing options for more information about how to publish on Chrome Web Store.
- Self hosting is the practice of hosting an extension outside of the Chrome Web Store. This option is only available in managed environments where system administrators control Chrome with enterprise policies. See Linux installation for information on how to host an extension on your own server.